The Ministry of Education yesterday said it will retain a zero-tolerance policy on ractopamine residue in meat for school lunches, despite the legislature’s decision a day earlier to ease the ban on the leanness-enhancing feed additive in imported beef.
In the interest of students’ safety, the meat served in lunches at elementary and junior-high schools across the nation will contain no ractopamine residues, the ministry’s Physical Education Department Director Wang Chun-chuan (王俊權) said.
The policy applies to pork and beef, he said, adding that school lunches in Taiwan rarely contain beef because the administrators make an effort to accommodate all students’ religious beliefs.
Meanwhile, cities and counties governed by the Democratic Progressive Party have responded swiftly to the legislature’s passage of the ractopamine bill by increasing regulations to protect consumers.
The Yilan County Government said it will step up spot inspections of beef and pork products, and will publicize the results. Restaurants and meat suppliers will also be required to clearly indicate the country of origin of their meat products, it said.
Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) said the city will adopt similar measures and that labeling meat products clearly will be mandatory so that consumers can make an informed decision on whether to buy beef products.
Ho Chi-kung (何啟功), director-general of the Greater Kaohsiung Department of Health, said the city government will inspect beef products to ensure that any ractopamine residues fall within the limits set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a global food safety body.
The commission voted earlier this month to allow a maximum residue level of 10 parts per billion (ppb) of ractopamine in beef and pork, 40ppb in pig and cattle livers, and 90ppb in pig and cattle kidneys.
Taiwan has not yet established its own standard for allowable levels of ractopamine in meat.